Student Marketing 101: Relating to your Audience


12 Feb 2020

Student Marketing 101: Relating to your Audience

What's the right approach to marketing to your prospective students? According to Andy Collins, Client Manager in our Penna Education team, the first step is to think about what your target audience's priorities are. Here's how to design a relatable and helpful attraction strategy. 

The HE student recruitment landscape can tend to feel repetitive every year in its approach to advertising campaigns. Each year there is a significant focus on driving open day bookings and course applications from prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students, with the emphasis often on course or university-focused messaging, ensuring the target market is exposed to the courses and offerings available at a given university.

But should this be the sole focus?

Whilst promoting courses and showing the university brand is always going to be the bread and butter of a student marketing campaign, is there more to it than this? Is this how other industries approach their advertising?

The answer is yes. Take the Barclays’ Life Skills campaign; it was built around the consumer and their needs. Barclays recognised that their customer base needed more than just a bank, they needed important advice on skills such as how to build your CV, how to develop a business idea, how to be tech-savvy in the world of business, to name a few. Adverting infiltrates all aspects of modern life, from ASOS emails in our inboxes, mattress adverts on the Tube, to our Instagram feeds, TVs and Tik Tok. The way to cut through the noise is to serve content that is relatable to your audience – just as Barclays did.

Let’s take this back into the world of student marketing.

How can universities be more relatable and helpful? Throughout the year, show you understand what your target audience is experiencing in their life. During exam season, roll out adverts giving exam tips for students. In the build up to the UCAS January application deadline, why not offer support around writing personal statements; the do’s and don’ts that an applicant should be wary of. Content-driven advertising will humanise the university, showing the audience that you, the applicant, are more than just a customer, you are an individual going through the biggest, most transformative period of your life to date – and universities are here to help.

A relatable approach will help a university stand out in a crowded market, and differentiate them from competitors, leading to an audience that will associate with the brand and make them more likely to apply. A win for all involved.

Want to know more about our work in Education?

Penna Education are the people to speak to. Our Education consultants deliver student marketing and attraction, creative branding design services and staff recruitment to our client base of over 70 UK institutions. Most of our education clients are UK universities or business schools; some are FE colleges, schools or private higher education providers. 

Contact for more information.